Tips on developing your own Web site

Search terms are key to drawing crowds

For years, knowledgeable marketers have understood that the keys to Yellow Pages success are location and placement. Get your ad to be the first one seen by the consumer, and you are assured success.

Marketing on the Internet applies the same "be first" philosophy, but the tools of the medium are much different. The key to success on the Net is using the key word search terms that consumers are most likely to request.

"Different search engines use different criteria to do their searches," says Keith Borglum, president of Professional Management and Marketing, a consulting firm based in Santa Rosa, CA. Use the same key words on three different search engines, and as many as 80% of the hits may differ. "The other 20% have used key words correctly to respond to the consumer inquiries," he says.

Most search engines allow a site to identify about 25 key words. If your key words are listed in a consumer’s search, a one-line summary of your site will appear on the user’s monitor. "You have only a second or two to grab their attention strongly enough to make them open your Web page," says Borglum. You better have a good hook in that one-line description.

While surfing the Net, people do not show much tolerance for waiting, Borglum warns. How many times have you clicked the "Cancel" button while waiting for a graphic to appear on screen?

"I believe in nongraphical first pages," says Borglum. "Just get it up there and get them on the page — fast, fast, fast." Only graphic artists and software vendors want to see much that is graphical.

Borglum also advises practices to invest in obtaining a domain name. Any Internet service provider can supply the paperwork that will allow a practice to obtain a short, snappy, memorable name like FedEx.com or SpineNet.com. If you don’t get a domain name, yours will be some extraordinarily long and eminently forgettable list of numbers, letters, and strange symbols. Maintaining a domain name costs $50 per year.

Practices also have an opportunity to refer users from their site to other sites of interest and vice versa through Web links. A link is little more than a bit of programming that allows users to click a button to move another site with related topics. Links generally appear at the bottom of a Web site page. For example, the San Francisco Spine Center site has links referring visitors to other prominent spine center Web pages such as Cambridge, MA-based Harvard General.